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Larry "Mac" McDonald

Larry Gray McDonald, age 78, passed away quietly and peacefully on December 10, 2020 after a hard-fought battle with cancer.

Larry was born on September 22, 1942 to Herman George Burlingame and Marquita Mead in Lansing, MI. Larry moved to Plant City, Florida during childhood, where he spent his spent his school age years with his mother and adoptive father, W. Ray McDonald. He later attended Western Carolina University where he pursued a degree in Physical Education, bringing him to Jackson County.

He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Pamela Watkins McDonald and his four sons: Gray McDonald, Nicholas (Teresa) McDonald, Brock McDonald, and Spencer (Madison) McDonald. He also leaves behind a sister, Susan Miller and his favorite father in law, Eugene Watkins. Larry is preceded in death by his mother, birth father, adoptive father, and his favorite mother in law, Eleanor Watkins.

Larry had a contagious enthusiasm for life and embraced everyone he met with a big hug, smile, and most likely a word of wisdom. He was a mountain of a man in every sense, with a big appetite, and even bigger heart. Larry was a true family man. He was a devoted husband, proud father, and was overjoyed to become “Pops” to two grandchildren on the way, Barrett and Andreina. He could tell a joke with the best of them, never missed an opportunity to enjoy a cold one in an oversized mug, and always told people what they meant to him.

Larry had a true passion for being an educator and turned a career into a lifelong legacy, meeting many friends who turned into family throughout the years. His positive impact, as mentor, coach, friend, and educator, is felt almost immediately when someone mentions “Coach McDonald or Larry Mac” and shares a story with a smile.

The family will hold a private service at this time, with plans to have a celebration of life in his honor in the spring. More details to come at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Larry Gray “Mac” McDonald Scholarship at WCU. Checks should be written to WCU Foundation and should have Larry Gray “Mac” McDonald scholarship written in the memo line to ensure that the check goes directly to the scholarship.

WCU Foundation

1 University Drive

201 HF Robison Bldg.

Cullowhee, NC 28723

Appalachian Funeral Services of Sylva, NC is serving the family.

To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Larry McDonald, please visit our flower store.


My condolences to the family of Larry McDonald and to Artie. I came to the US for a PE conference and an embarrassing situation made me encounter Larry and Artie who quickly assisted me and made me forget all my worries and griefs. Two nights in a hotel room with Larry and Kevin where he always found a way to tease his "new friend coming from Senegal (West Africa) and to show him his compassion. Truly, this man won't be forgotten Sorry buddy, I tried to get in touch with you in vain. Your promise to come visit me in Senegal will never happen. Rest in peace. Love. From Gaucher KADAM Senegal - West Africa

Ibra KADAM "Gaucher Jan 26 2021 12:00 AM

From KA Brother Craig Linton 2nd Corinthians 5 1 NLT version. Put simply when we die we leave this place and God has prepared a place for us in heaven.

Skip Smith Dec 12 2020 12:00 AM

What a legacy! He was our PE coach at the former Log Cabin Elementary School. I remember he had the quote Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Well hanging above the double entrance doors to the gym. I cant tell you how many times I, as an educator myself, referred to that quote and always gave Coach credit. Later on Coach actually became one of my parents in my teaching journey. What a blessing to me to have met such a mega man! My condolences to his entire family during this time. As I am sure you are aware .....Coach will never be forgotten! Glenda Gunter (Barnes) Blair

Glenda Blair Dec 12 2020 12:00 AM

To all the McDonald family. I am so thankful I got the opportunity to know this man. I miss his jokes, and riddles, his insight and wisdom, but I think his I'll miss facial expressions most of all. He was so encouraging and made me believe in myself. My love goes out to you his, wonderful family he talked about so much.

Misty Moore Dec 12 2020 12:00 AM

Dear McDonald Family, I'm so sorry to hear Coach McDonald has passed! He was a gentle giant and always fair with me in all our interactions while I was a student at Fairview Elementary. You each have my deepest sympathies and will be in my prayers in the coming months! Sincerely yours, Judy Wilkey Charlotte NC

Judy Wilkey Dec 12 2020 12:00 AM

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the McDonald family. Where do I start? Coach McDonald was my teacher at Fairview Elementary School. He has always been a major influence in my life, career and supporter of my family. He always took time to talk and give me great advice in life, for which I am always grateful for. He also, was a great friend and would always be there when I needed help/advice in my professional career. He was a great mentor and someone I could always count on. He always got me (Always) with that silly hand signal thing he did as a joke, Always! He always had faith in me and believed in me and I needed that for sure many times. God Bless you all! I am a far better person by having know Larry McDonald !

Jeff Carpenter Dec 12 2020 12:00 AM

So sorry to hear of Larrys passing. He was always so nice to me. When i went to work at the County office he was so helpful. At one of our first dinners at work I witnessed Larry picking up a bottle of Hot sauce when the dinner was over. He put it in his shirt pocket and started to walk out. I turned to walk as He did. Then I said are you stealing that and he replied yes. I found out later that he always had a bottle that he carried with him wherever he ate. He sure fooled me. I bet Saint Peter has his hands full trying to keep my brother (Charles McConnell) and Larry straight in heaven. I will remember thenfamily in prayers.

Judy mcConnell Dec 11 2020 12:00 AM

Pam, I am so sorry to hear of Larry's passing. My heart goes out to you and the boys, as well as their families. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Love to you, KimBerly Clarke Mosley

KimBerly Clarke Mosley Dec 10 2020 12:00 AM

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Friends and Family Nov 30 -0001 12:00 AM